Factors that influence hand hygiene practice amongst occupational therapy students

Wall, Olivia M. and Smiddy, Maura P. (2017) Factors that influence hand hygiene practice amongst occupational therapy students. Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy, 45 (2). pp. 112-122. ISSN 2398-8819



Hand hygiene is the single most important intervention to reduce the risk of acquiring infection. All healthcare workers and healthcare students have a responsibility to prevent transmission of infection. The purpose of this study is to investigate students’ attitudes to hand hygiene following university-based education and practice placement. Students attended a lecture, completed an e-learning module, participated in a practical session using a ultra-violet light hand inspection cabinet and engaged in clinical placement.

In all, 64 students participated in a multimodal hand hygiene education programme before clinical placement, with each student completing an in-class questionnaire after placement. Data were analysed using descriptive and comparative statistics. Students rated educational methods that had most influence on them. Their preference was for a practical hand hygiene education session. Students were also influenced by the therapist they were on placement with. They were least influenced by the didactic college presentation.

This study highlights that students may be influenced by different methods of education at different stages in their course and that placement may be an important influencing factor in the earlier years of occupational therapy education.
Research limitations/implications

This study highlights the importance of the availability of a multimodal educational approach and clinical placement to promote increased compliance with hand hygiene amongst students.
Practical implications

University healthcare course curricula should include multimodal approaches to the education of hand hygiene. While hand hygiene e-learning modules are beneficial, they should be used in conjunction with a multimodal educational strategy that incorporates practical elements. The influence of the therapist on a students’ behaviour should be utilised to improve both student and professionals hand hygiene adherence.

Original piece of work that is not widely discussed in Occupational Therapy literature.

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